Impact of e-waste and plastic waste on human health was the agenda at the three COP meetings held for over 10 days in Geneva with over 180 countries adopting amendments to restrict dumping of e-waste in developing countries by the developed ones after the Indian government expressed concern over it.
The triple COP (Conference of the Parties) meetings, involving the conferences of the parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, were held in Geneva from April 29 to May 10 on the theme 'Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste' with over 180 countries as participants.
A delegation of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), and other ministries such as agriculture, chemicals, and electronics and information technology participated in the meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Under the Basel Convention, a major achievement was the decision to amend the convention to include unsorted, mixed and contaminated plastic waste under PIC (Prior Informed Consent) procedure and improve the regulation of its trans-boundary movement.
"These steps will help prevent the illegal dumping of plastic wastes in developing countries. India has already imposed a complete prohibition of import of solid plastic waste into the country," the official said.
India has also made an international commitment to phase out single-use plastic.
"India fully supported this exercise and one of the members of the Indian delegation was co-chair in the contact group which negotiated this agreement for amendment in the annexes of Basel Convention to bring plastic waste under PIC procedure," the official said, adding that many rounds of multilateral and bilateral negotiations happened under the aegis of the Convention Secretariat in order to address India's concerns.
The concerns were supported by a large number of other developing countries and on the final day of the COP, a modified decision was adopted in which all the concerns raised by India were incorporated, a statement from the ministry said.
In Basel Convention, two important issues were discussed and decided -- technical guidelines on e-waste and inclusion of plastic waste in the PIC procedure.
"The draft technical guidelines stipulated the conditions when used electrical and electronic equipment destined for direct reuse, repair, refurbishment or failure analysis should be considered as non-waste," an official statement from the environment ministry said.
It said that India had major reservations regarding these provisions as in the name of re-use, repair, refurbishment and failure analysis there was a possibility of dumping from the developed world to the developing countries, including India, in view of the growing consumption of electronic equipment and waste across the world.
"The Indian delegation strongly objected the proposed decision on these guidelines during plenary and did not allow it to be passed by the conference of the parties (COP)," it said.
Signed in 1989, the Basel Convention is comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes with 187 parties.
The Rotterdam Convention aims to promote shared responsibilities in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals and pesticides, which is jointly administered by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a treaty to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods. The legally-binding convention has 182 parties.
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